June this year saw the second Mindful Employer Leeds Conference (the very first being in 2014) and it was a success! Over 125 delegates attended from a diverse range of businesses and sectors and we’ve received very positive feedback through the post conference survey (especially for the lunch provided by Inkwell Arts Catering Team). Since the conference there have already been 5 new Leeds based employers who have signed the Charter and made the pledge to become Mindful Employers. Our Mindful Employer Network has also had a boom in members.
We were very lucky to have a huge team of volunteers on the day that really made the event a friendly and enjoyable experience. Also, it was fantastic to have support from local services; Community Links, Leeds IAPT, Leeds Mind, LOHAS, Resilient People, Mental Health Information Hub, Public Health Resource Centre and Touchstone who attended as stall holders.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Practical Advice on Supporting Employee Wellbeing’ and was supported by action packed programme of wellbeing activities, key speakers, lived experience stories, practical workshops, interactive quiz voting remotes and networking opportunities. In fact, 65% of attendees said they met more than 6 brand new contacts at the event.
“What a fantastic lunch and great networking opportunities meeting people from different sectors.” Swarthmore Education Centre Leeds
The Conference was chaired by Leeds Mind CEO Helen Kemp and opened with a motivating welcome from Hayley Tatum, Executive People Director and Senior Vice President at Asda HR via video link to London. Key Speakers Paul Farmer, CEO of National Mind talked passionately on ending the stigma on Mental Health in the work place, Councillor Charlwood, the new Chair of the Health & Wellbeing Board introduced the Leeds Health & Wellbeing Strategy and Tom Riordan, CEO of Leeds City Council discussed championing mental health in Leeds.
A favourite of many attendees were the two speakers who shared their lived experience stories on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Employers were very grateful to hear Berni Mudie and Debbie Young’s journeys back to positive mental health.
“The real life stories were really touching and encouraging. The people were very brave sharing their experiences with such a large audience. I took away some key things from their stories to help our organisation improve experiences in the future.” Leeds Community NHS
Interactive wellbeing activities were delivered in the morning by Holly McFee, Yoga Hero and again in the afternoon by Shona Lowe, Counselling Therapist and Mindfulness Facilitator. Voting remotes from Turning Technologies were a fun addition to the day and a great way to learn from our audience. By the end of the event we were very pleased to see employers now felt more confident in having a conversation on mental health in the workplace than when they first arrived and now felt they would be able to help a colleague, they also felt their general knowledge of mental health had improved.
Seven practical workshops covering a range of themes lead by employers and mental health services were available for conference attendees to choose from. Yorkshire Water discussed Wellbeing Strategies, Asda and West Yorkshire Fire Service presented in depth case studies of their successes and challenges of implementing wellbeing in their organisations so far, Leeds Mind and CIPD engaged employers in raising awareness of mental health conditions and how to improve mental health related sickness absence, Leeds Trinity University presented a current research project on how to evaluate employee wellbeing in the workplace and the impact of intervention, and Mindful Employer Leeds delivered an overview of the initiative and explained how attendees could become a Mindful Employer.
“Slick, professional and fabulous to bag ASDA venue as it shows employers potential of engaging in this agenda.” Public Health, Leeds City Council
The Mindful Employer Conference 2016 also celebrated the launch of the 10 Steps Employer Toolkit. The 10 Steps is an online interactive resource created in partnership with Leeds Mind and digital agency Yoomee. We hope the toolkit will support employers to engage, educate and embed good practices in order to develop a mentally healthy working environment. The 10 Steps Employer Toolkit features resources, case studies and focusses on themes such as; increasing awareness of mental health conditions, reducing stigma in the workplace and building the skills and confidence of employees so they can approach someone they may be concerned about. To view the 10 Steps Employer Toolkit visit: http://mindfulemployertensteps.co.uk/
A key highlight of the event was working with Inkwell Arts Media Team to deliver a custom made animation, consisting of the voices and artistic talents of our delegates themselves. The Inkwell Arts Media Team did an incredible job in interviewing delegates on what wellbeing in the workplace meant to them, coordinating the interviewees to draw a self-portrait and combining the two in just a matter of hours to form the unique Mindful Employer Conference Production “The Wellbeing Diaries”. The end result is available to view here.
Mindful Employer Leeds is now looking forward to working more closely with the conference attendees and employers across the city to continue to raise awareness and the profile of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and have a positive impact in reducing stigma. We can’t wait for the next Mindful Employer Networking Event coming up in autumn this year focusing on good practice and for future Conferences to come!